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Locked out of Opportunity: Diversifying the Health Workforce

On Tuesday, October 20, 2015 at Loyola University, Health & Medicine Policy Research Group held a meeting of the Chicago Forum for Justice in Health Policy series, Locked Out of Opportunity: Diversifying the Health Workforce. The forum provided an opportunity to discuss policy reform efforts in recent years that have focused on reducing the barrier that arrest and criminal records can place on employment opportunities, generally, and in the health workforce, specifically.

Forum Speakers, Presentations, and Resources:
  • Honorable Toni Preckwinkle, Cook County Board President
  • Sharon Powell, Director, Chicago Area Health Education Center (AHEC), Health & Medicine Policy Research Group (Moderator)
  • Sam Tuttle, Director, Policy and Advocacy, Heartland Alliance
  • Karima Douglas, Project Director: Juvenile Justice, Illinois Collaboration on Youth and State Disproportionate Minority Contact Coordinator, Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission - click here to view the presentation
  • Anthony Lowery, Director of Policy & Advocacy, Safer Foundation -  click here to view the presentation
  • Beth Johnson, Director of Legal Programs, Cabrini Green Legal Aid - Follow the links to view the Health Care Waiver for Health Care Workers application, as well as a flyer for the Expungement Help Desk, which Ms. Johnson discussed during her presentation
  • Chanita Howard, Visible Voices Member, Chicago Legal Advocacy for Incarcerated Mothers
About the Forum:
As people of color in the U.S. have experienced disproportionate minority contact with police, courts, jails, and prisons, they also disproportionately face employment barriers in the health workforce by having an arrest and/or criminal records.  This barrier exacerbates already existing inequities in access to culturally competent healthcare, as racial and ethnic similarities between physicians and patients have been shown to lead to higher patient satisfaction. Fortunately, there are some potential short-term policy reforms that can begin to remediate these inequities.

There are also a variety of programs and opportunities for people involved with the criminal legal system to gain an education inside and once outside of the system that will help formerly incarcerated people gain access to better employment opportunities.  How can we continue to seek reforms and maximize these opportunities for education and employment?

Other questions addressed at the forum included:
  • How does ending systems of racial discrimination in policing, arrests, and incarceration relate to health reform and public health agendas?
  • How can different sectors better collaborate to advance racial justice across all systems and policies?
  • What are some potential policy solutions to expand options for sealing and expunging records?
Intended Audiences:
Policy experts, public health and healthcare advocates, criminal justice reform advocates, health workforce experts (especially those working in health career pathway and trajectory, i.e. “pipeline” programs), higher education faculty and administrators working in health education, and both health education students and impacted community members.

About The Chicago Forum for Justice in Health Policy:
Each policy forum in The Chicago Forum for Justice in Health Policy series focuses on health reform efforts both in Illinois and in the Chicago area, including discussions of best practices from around the country. Previous events in the series include:
Health & Medicine wishes to thank the Searle Funds at the Chicago Community Trust and The Health Justice Project at Loyola University Chicago School of Law for their support of this forum.